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Cookie Dough Warning: 'Stop Eating It Raw,' FDA Says

First Posted: Jul 02, 2016 05:47 AM EDT

People who bake know that eating raw cookie dough may be the best part about baking cookies. However, the dough being eaten may still cause people to get sick even if it doesn't have raw eggs in it. The warning was issued after an outbreak of E.coli was linked to a contaminated flour.

"Kids are going to handle it and touch their faces, and they're going to lick their fingers; it's hard to supervise that," said Jenny Scott, a senior adviser at the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition for the FDA. "We want to encourage consumers to report their illnesses, even though it's an imperfect system. We'd like to have the tests done and get everything reported and identify these outbreaks so we can follow up, discover root causes and make changes in the system so that people don't get sick in the future."

Medical Daily reported that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently announced that eating raw cookie dough or any raw batter may cause people to get sick. A piece for The New York Times stated that infections started in December, and there were 38 people across 20 states who have been infected with a specific E. coli strain found in flour called Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O121.

The report said that the source of the contamination was traced back to a General Mills facility in Kansas City, Missouri. It was also said that the brand voluntarily recalled "10 million pounds of flour produced between Nov. 14 and Dec. 4, sold under three brand names: Gold Medal, Signature Kitchens and Gold Medal Wondra."

"Flour is derived from a grain that comes directly from the field and typically is not treated to kill bacteria," Leslie Smoot, a senior advisor in FDA's Office of Food Safety, said, according to the FDA's statement. Boiling, baking, roasting, microwaving and frying are considered "kill steps" that prevent the bacteria from surviving, Self Magazine reported.

The investigation proved that raw dough that was eaten or handled by some of the patients who got sick was made with flour from General Mills. Follow up tests were done and connected the bacteria in a flour sample to bacteria from those who became sick.

And because flour has a long shelf life, people usually keep a lot of it in their pantries for a long time. The FDA is encouraging everyone to do a quick check on each individual's pantry and make sure to throw any of the products that were listed, Tech Insider reported.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also warned restaurants to stop the habit of handing out raw dough to customers (especially children) to entertain them, because some flours that were recalled had been sold to some restaurants.

The FDA listed a few common symptoms to watch out for related to Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, such as diarrhea (often bloody) and abdominal cramps and, in more severe cases, kidney failure. Young children, older people and those who have weak immune systems are those most likely to suffer serious consequences of the bacteria.

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